Seasonality: does it work?

Currency traders pay a lot of attention to seasonality. “NZDUSD tends to sell-off in August” is often cited as an argument (combined with other considerations, of course) to either short the pair or at least not go long.

Yes, NZDUSD tends to sell-off in August, but does that mean you should do it?

Come September, we will probably move on to the seasonality tendencies for that month, and there is seldom a review of whether seasonality “worked” in August.

So here I’m doing just that. I am “trading” every seasonality recommendation to test whether there is any value in this metric at all. If a currency pair exhibits strong seasonality for a month – i.e. it strengthened or weakened in 4 out of 5 months in previous years – then I long/short that pair.

Its earlier stuff was better

The results are decent, but they’re neither unanimous (some currencies do better than others) nor consistent over time (lately, seasonality hasn’t been doing that well).

  • Seasonality has never been a particularly successful strategy for USDCHF or USDTWD
  • For currencies where it has been successful, that success petered out around 2017
Combined returns of a seasonality strategy for G10 excluding NOK and SEK

So the short answer is that this is a strategy whose best years are probably behind it. Since 2017, you wouldn’t have lost much on seasonality, but you would not have made much either.

Everything done on Python.


What markets are focused on, part II

Following my recent post about the most referenced topic in FX commentary (in my case, excellent daily commentary from BNZ), I received a number of questions from readers about whether topic X was being talked about more or less.

So I visualized the data differently for all those interested – this time as time series. Each chart show the number of references made to a particular topic on a monthly basis.

NLP panel

References to the trade war, Fed and Trump increased in May. Meanwhile references to Covid-19 have been consistently sliding lower every month since March.

See last post for methodology. Everything done on Python.

Abbas Keshvani

What markets are focused on

An updated version of this chart for June 2020 was shared with subscribers of TLR Wire, the esteemed economics newsletter managed by Philippa Dunne and Doug Henwood.

The financial sector produces a lot of commentary on the things affecting markets. A lot of this year’s commentary has been focused on Covid-19, but before that there was a lot of literature being produced on the US-China trade war and Brexit.

Here I chart, for every month, the most talked about issue in financial literature. I did this by pulling out hundreds of daily FX commentary pieces from BNZ (who do a solid job on recapping the previous day’s events) and analyzing the most used words (excluding the generic ones like “the” and “markets” and “economy”).

What markets are focused on

Naturally the total number of references to Covid-19 for a given month is not just the number of times “Covid-19” is printed, but also “coronavirus” and “virus”. A similar methodology is adopted for the US-China trade war.

While Covid-19 remained in the top 5 of topics for May, we can see the focus is starting to balance out, with the the Fed getting the most number of references as we approach the June meeting (which will have the Fed’s quarterly economic projections (which they skipped in March). There was also a pick-up in references to “Trump” and “trade” this month, suggesting that we aren’t quite done with the US-China theme.

Data mining, text-analysis and chart all done on Python.

Abbas Keshvani